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Sonic Mania’s secret mode is Sega embracing fans’ favorite joke

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No lock-on cartridges required for this one

In Sonic Mania, players can run through some retro-style levels as either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles. But a special hidden mode adds a perfect twist on the gameplay by calling back to a classic Sonic goof.

Since the release of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, an expansion to the Sega Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog 3, fans have taken to adding on the “& Knuckles” suffix to any number of things, like other movies and games. Not that people stopped there, of course:

Sonic Mania does the same thing with its own & Knuckles Mode, where Knuckles follows the playable character around a la Tails.

It doesn’t matter who you’re playing as for this to work — so you can even make Sonic Mania into Knuckles & Knuckles, if you want. GameXplain went ahead and showed us what that looks like in the gameplay footage above.

To unlock & Knuckles Mode, players need to collect medals from the bonus stages scattered throughout the main levels. It’s one of several features hidden within Sonic Mania, which launched today on consoles. We’ll leave the rest for you to discover, but check out our review before digging into the latest Sonic game.